Cocos Island is a Costa Rican National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and an ocean natural treasure. This island, part of the Cocos Ridge, is located approximately 350 miles off the west coast of the Costa Rican mainland. Similar in scientific value to the Galapagos Islands, Cocos Island has an advantage: it’s a tropical rainforest full of diverse, isolated, and in some cases endemic species. This unique and fascinating island has inspired the settings for “Jurassic Park” and “Treasure Island” and continues to inspire great minds today. The island is surrounded by vaulted cliffs and, other than national park guards and visiting scientists and students, the island is devoid of any permanent community.
The same remoteness that has allowed this island to maintain its pristine state also constitutes a threat to the island’s ecosystems. Out of sight and out of mind, only a handful of fortunate tourists and ship crews visit the island each year. A 36-hour ship crossing from the nearest port, Cocos Island is popular among poachers. Every so often, large groups of poaching fishing ships surround the island with huge nets, scooping up and cutting off the fins of protected sharks. Dedicated park guards and park rangers who patrol the island can only do so on an intermittent basis, leaving the island vulnerable. Having UNESCO World Heritage Site status gives would-be supporters a false sense of security for the Island’s protection.
As principal contributors to the original petition making this island an UNESCO World Heritage site, Sea Save Foundation leaders are uniquely positioned to protect the island from poachers who decimate the island’s animal populations. We will reach out to regular visitors to the island such as park rangers, guards, and scientists to relay information about their trips and the condition of the island. Using this information, we seek to inform people of the scientific value and sheer beauty of Cocos Island and its inhabitants to engage them as we ask for their help in protecting it.
The Voice of Cocos Island is a blog that connects this natural laboratory with the rest of the world. Updates about scientific findings, spectacular underwater encounters, and personal reflections can be shared with the world. Critical to our mission, this virtual audience will also immediately stand witness to poachers and other efforts to harm this fragile island. Followers of this electronic newspaper will be the front line of defense against the island’s human threats. The blog will create a level of transparency and timeliness about threats to the island that can lead to coordinated actions to protect Cocos.
Cocos Island is a World Heritage Site and one of the world’s premier diving destinations. Its protected waters serve as an underwater hub for large marine congregations. Sharks, dolphin, turtles, huge schools of jacks, rays, and many other animals are permanent residents, or pass by the island during migrations. This spot is not only beautiful, but because it has minimal human settlement, it serves as a vital baseline for scientific study.
The remoteness of Cocos Island has kept the island vibrant and pristine. But now that remoteness threatens the island and leaves it vulnerable to poachers. Costa Rica National Park guards are on site but face challenges that hinder them from combating the well-equipped poachers. Often a simple need such as a gasket or a propeller stands between the guards and successful patrolling.
Development of the Voice of Cocos Island will give the world a window into the daily activities of Cocos Island park guards and visitors. It will create a level of communication and transparency that will enable Cocos Island aficionados and supporters to follow daily activity and track their donations. The program will also give the world the opportunity to enjoy the seasonal changes and constant discoveries that are happening from the comfort of their home or office.
To support this critical program, please donate. Your support makes a difference!
Sea Save Foundation – raises funds to help keep Cocos Island guards up and running. Boats need to be service if they are to patrol for poaches.